The Diet Industrial Complex Got Me, and It Will Never Let Me Go

The Diet Industrial Complex Got Me, and It Will Never Let Me Go


Suddenly, about a decade ago, when I started to notice that fat women were a) calling themselves fat, with pride, and b) walking down the streets of our nation’s great cities nonchalantly wearing tight or revealing clothing with a general air of, “yeah I will wear this and I will wear whatever I want, and I am hot, too, I will be hot forever, long after you have all died,” I thought to myself, Oh my God WHAT? The solution is not … the diet?

I started seeing fat, beautiful models and actresses in catalogs, and on television shows. I would like to have seen more, but I was pleased to see them at all. I was and remain in awe of their confident beauty. I feel tenderness for them as well, for what they endured, and still endure, to achieve it. I sometimes choke up with love for them, and for the idea of how I could have lived if I had allowed myself to just weigh what I weighed.

I don’t actually think beauty is restricted to certain types of women at all. I don’t think you need to be thin to have sex or find love. I know all this but am sorry to report that I only like myself thin. My weight has probably occupied 50 percent of my thinking for my entire life. I am on a diet now. I just lost eight pounds. I want to lose 15 more.

I go to Weight Watchers every Saturday. I didn’t lose any weight last week after a week of being “perfect” — which meant having a small breakfast and two reasonably large salads with no cheese or nuts (and therefore sad) for lunch and dinner — and I sobbed furiously, 12 years old all over again. Yes, I have been to therapy, so much of it, and no, I do not think this mental state is “fine” or even “OK.” What it is is intractable.

It’s bizarre the way that women’s feelings about their bodies, good and bad, are tied to other women, like, if a woman has a great body, this can feel like a rebuke to everyone who has a regular body. As I watched J. Lo’s Super Bowl halftime show, I thought, this is going to turn into a thing where middle-aged women get upset because they don’t look like that, and they will express this anger in racist and sexist comments about her clothing choices and the precise shape of her body. Poor innocent J. Lo’s body — here it thought its whole purpose was just to move J. Lo’s consciousness through space.

I wonder how many women don’t feel so much that they’ve accepted their bodies as much as they need to present as someone who has. Younger women tell me that the way that they hear weight anxiety being expressed is more through the buzzword of “health,” so women say they’re not eating dairy, or bread, or sugar so they won’t be seen as judging themselves, or others.



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